Saturday, July 31, 2010

It's the wait that kills you

I've been avoiding posting on here.

Part of it is because my next spinning/knitting/dyeing post is about a gift that hasn't yet been given. But part of it is because of the other reason why I keep this blog: the seminary part.

Summer was going by so slowly. I went to movies with my mom, ate lunch at Steak 'n Shake, knit, and read some of the Bible. May came and went...June came....passed by at a painfully slow rate. But July...things started to speed up. And then the days went crashing by, and now suddenly it's the last day of the month. Suddenly I leave for Texas in twelve days, and I don't know how to comprehend this.

I've never lived outside this state. The midwest has been my home for 22 years. I complain, but I really love the crazy winters and the humid summers. I love that this part of the country gets four seasons, even if the four seasons don't always happen in the right order. But it's not just moving from this state that scares me.

I'm starting a new part of my life. This would have happened no matter if I'd decided to go to seminary or not; I graduated, and so moving out of my parents' house is the next step.

You get the point: I'm scared. I think that somehow, something will go wrong. It's like the summer before I studied abroad in England: the mix of anticipation, fear, excitement, and the unknown created in me the disbelief that I would ever get there.

I keep telling myself, though, that this is what I am supposed to be doing. This is the direction I'm meant to go, and so things will end up alright. It will be hard, but it's be boring if it wasn't.

In the end, I really just can't wait. Twelve days. Twelve days!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Thoughts on Tolstoy, the Bible

Yesterday, my mom and I watched The Last Station, which is a film about the end of Leo Tolstoy's life, and the difficulties that aroused between Sophia Tolstoy (his wife) and Vladamir Chertkov. Chertkov was a member of the group that called themselves the Tolstoyans. In the film, these people gathered around Tolstoy as if he were the new Christ speaking the word of God.

I've not read any Tolstoy, and this film is pretty much the extent of my learnings on Tolstoy. It's a fact I'm a little ashamed of, but someday I hope to read his work. In general I, love the Russian writers, and I'm sure I will love Tolstoy.

It occurred to me while we were watching the movie that I didn't particularly like the way that Chertkov idolized Tolstoy. Granted, the film did not portray him in a very good light. He was trying to make Tolstoy leave his works to the public domain, while Sophia wanted their children to receive it as an inheritance. Chertkov put Tolstoy above most everything else - he said that he was the most important man in all of the world, yet he pushed and shoved Tolstoy into doing what he wanted. At one point, a young woman had a mosquito on her cheek, and Tolstoy reached out to squish it. Chertkov told him that he should not have killed a living creature; that that wasn't the message their movement needed to send. Yet it was Tolstoy who has come up with the movement, who had written the words to spark it.

I'm not familiar with the movement itself, so I won't speak for or against it. But I do think that Chertkov was wrong to spend his whole life idolizing the work of another. He seemed a very intelligent man, and I believe he wrote some. But instead of taking his talent and working on his own things, he acted as Tolstoy's guard, sometimes even against Tolstoy himself.

As a child and a young writer, I idolized other writers, but learned to write my own things. Yes, I was inspired and continue to be inspired by these authors, but my work is my own. I believe that it stands alone. I understand that this may be different - that this is social reform rather than fiction, but I think the same thing stands.

Yet as I was thinking about it, I realized that we do this with Christ, with the Bible. Many of us dedicate our lives to the Word of God and to studying it. And I thought, this is not wrong, because Christ is the Son of God. But in the film, many of the people believed that Tolstoy was a prophet, who spoke directly from God as well. How can we tell?

I don't really have a conclusion to make, other than this: We follow people, their belies; we find their works inspirational. But no matter if it is Tolstoy, J.K. Rowling, or the Bible itself...we can't allow ourselves to become blinded and to forget that our ideas matter, too. I think that we have to be inspired by ourselves, as well. We have to remember to think for ourselves.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Rainbow Stitches

For a few years now, I have been in search of the perfect rainbow yarn. Something that stripes slowly, with rows and rows of one color before you get to the next. Most of the striping yarn you find has quick stripes, little snatches of color. I'd seen people using long striped yarn on Ravelry, but either they didn't list what type of yarn it was, or I didn't know how to read their language.

Last week, my mom attended the TKGA conference (which is a little redundant as TKGA stands for "The Knitters' Guild of America). Among the hoards of yarn she brought home was a ball of something called Kauni.

Kauni is my dream yarn. I read reviews of it on Ravelry, where people said that it is very course, frustrating to knit with...but I love it. Maybe it is from spinning, but I don't mind that it is a rougher yarn. It's Shetland wool, for goodness sake! It's not going to be a yarn you want around your neck.

The day after I got it, I spent about two hours searching for a pattern on Ravelry, before finally settling on the Boneyard Shawl. I love this, because it is simple. I'm a beginning knitter, and this pattern is all knits, purls, and M1L and M1R stitches. Very easy.

And the colors! Well, you'll just have to see them for yourself:

(I have to apologize to Franklin Habit, (though I doubt he will ever read this), who taught the photographing fibers class in Columbus, OH...didn't make my lightbox yet, and so this is really bad lighting....)

It's such a happy knitting project. :)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Etsy Listings

My Etsy Shop has now been updated!

I meant to do this once I got settled in for the summer, but lost track of things. Currently I just have four items for sale, but hopefully soon I will list new things...such as handspun yarn! I've also had a request in the past to list my snood pattern, so if I get around to it, I may list that as well.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Some Results....that aren't all yellow!

Red onion skins, dyed twice. Spun from gifted fleeces, grey and white. Result is a greenish yellow.

On the left, Queen Anne's Lace full plant with no mordant. On the right, tickseed flowers with copper pennies at the bottom of the dyebath, no pre-mordant. Tickseed flowers are small yellow flowers, so when the dyebath turned crimson I was shocked. I didn't want to waste such a pretty color on such a small amount of yarn, so I dyed roving as well.

Prepared same as tickseed yarn above, with a much more orange color. The color also seems veragated, possibly because there was barely enough water to cover the whole skein of roving. I am REALLY happy with this result. I hope that the color stays fast. It is still wet at this point, and tomorrow I am going to put it out in the sun and see how it does.

Finally, something that is not YELLOW!!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Dyeing Woes...


The search for green is not going well. Yellows, lots of yellows. But greens? Of course not.

I found someone on Ravelry who managed to get green from red onion skins, and thought that I'd try their method. It's simple enough - mordant the yarn using alum and cream of tarter while boiling the skins. Add the yarn to the dyebath, let it simmer for a while, and then when you take it out, it's green. But something seems to have gone wrong. Her yarn went from pink to orange to rust to green. Mine's just yellow. At least I can try it again with the same skein, if it didn't get felted while I wasn't watching.

My blueberry yarn turned out a decent shade of blue (pictures to follow), but the roving felted in the pot, and so the yarn is incredibly stiff and overspun (my fault).

Always, the problem is my lack of patience. Dyeing naturally can't be done quickly. It takes time. Unfortunately.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy Cozies!

This is spectacular. I now want a smart car so that I can crochet it a cozy. I wonder how it holds up in the rain?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Learning Patience

Well, it's not bright red.

I think my problem was that I left the the yarn heated for too long. I kept the crockpot on all night with the beets, water, and yarn in it. I wonder if it would be more red if I had let it cool.

I really love dyeing with things that are in nature, rather than using chemicals and other things. For one, it's so much cheaper to use leftover fruits and vegetables, or plants from the yard, than to buy dye. These are the things that were used to dye fabric for centuries; bright, vivid colors were had from them, far before we discovered other ways to make color.

As with knitting, as with crocheting; as with carding, combing, and spinning...I find so much satisfaction in returning to crafts that have been pushed aside, forgotten as the decades and centuries have passed. I think sometimes that we have lost touch with the patience required in completing everyday tasks. Imagine, wanting a sweater. You don't jump in your car and drive to Kohls. You have to go out and get wool. Wrangle a sheep and sheer it, if you have one; then you must get the wool ready to spin. Clean it, wash it, comb or card it. And then you have to spin it. It takes about 2 pounds of yarn to knit a sweater, and it takes me about a day to spin 4 oz of yarn. Do the math. Maybe if you start the process, you'll have it done by the end of the year. Without television, internet, cars, or phones, you'd probably get done faster.

I've never had much patience, but I think each skein of yarn I spin I gain a tiny bit more. I doubt, however, I will ever have the patience of the women who sat day-to-day making clothes, preparing food, and cleaning their homes without the luxury of having Netflix instantly available on the Wii.